'Time to change', says Vingegaard boss after Tour champ hospitalised

COMPIEGNE: The boss of the team of stricken two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard told AFP on Saturday the time to start making cycling safer is now.

This week Vingegaard was hospitalised after a crash in the Basque country that appeared to be caused by the road surface, while the Visma-Lease a Bike team's other star rider Wout van Aert suffered a similar fate 10 days earlier.

"Jonas is still in the hospital. Wout is at home. They are recovering from everything," said Richard Plugge ahead of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic.

"Hopefully, their health will be okay as soon as possible. And then we can fix some ideas for when they can come back. But in the first place they need to recover."

Described by former Ineos boss Dave Brailsford as one of cycling's most expansive thinkers, Plugge called for new measures to be taken.

"We have to start getting a solution ready. The organisation 'SafeR' is ready to go," he said of a group hoping to make cycling safer.

"And everybody is a little bit dragging... ego and politics and whatever. It's really time that we start with that.

"And I'm really fed up. We have been talking about this now already for four years."

Plugge called upon International Cycling Union leader David Lappartient to fast-track the needed changes.

"He is really in favour of it. But let's go, let's start. It will not be solved in a week. It will take time. So, the earlier we start the better it is."

Plugge said greater resources should be poured into pre-race planning.

"Let's start with the safer organisation and really listen through the recommendations. Look into the recons of the course and have professional commissaires, give them time to really be professional.

"If you see how professional the teams are and how let's say, not professional some organisers are. ASO is really one of the best together with Flanders Classics."

The section where Van Aert fell last week was removed from the Tour of Flanders, while ASO have implemented an unpopular but safety-minded solution for another perceived threat for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

"I applaud the idea to change at least something in the way we approach Arenberg. It's a really brave and courageous thinking," said Plugge.

After Van Aert broke his collarbone and several ribs in a high-speed mass fall during last week's Around Flanders one-day race, there was further carnage on the Tour of the Basque Country on Thursday.

Vingegaard was taken to hospital after suffering broken bones and lung damage during a crash which also took out Remco Evenepoel, who suffered a broken collarbone. - AFP

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